In the News

No relationship between hospital rank and quality, says Brownlee

Are the US News and World Report “Best Hospital” rankings based on evidence, or are they more of a beauty contest? On the public radio program “Second Opinion,” Lown Institute vice president Shannon Brownlee discusses what’s wrong with hospital rankings with host Dr. Michael Wilkes

Hospital rankings are meant to help give patients information they need to “vote with their feet,” rewarding the hospitals that have the best outcomes and pressuring poor hospitals to do better. But in reality, most patients don’t make hospital decisions based on rankings. Therefore, the information provided in the USNWR hospital rankings is “aimed at the very thin layer of the American public who can afford to fly to the Mayo clinic to get their knee done,” said Brownlee. 

The way the rankings are structured shows how little outcomes really matter. While a large chunk of the score is based on reputation (asking doctors to name the 5 best hospitals in their specialty), only 5% of the ranking score is for patient safety. 

“There is no relationship between hospital rank and quality, or between quality of care and the prices you get charged,” said Brownlee.

Listen to the full segment on Second Opinion here!